ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - In Orange County, public school recruiters are trying to find new teachers by making their message loud and clear, especially on the campus of the University of Central Florida.
With a fast growing student population in Orange County, there's a big need for more teachers -- the district is even using billboards near UCF to attract them. Recruiter David Azzarito says, things are ok right now, with only 80 vacancies, but in the long run it could be a challenge.
"We're still 99.5 percent filled with teachers so it's a small percent right now."
But the Orange County Teacher's Union says it's already critical.
Mark Mitchell, Executive Director of the Orange County Classroom Teacher Association says, "There may be 80 vacancies where there's no teacher assigned, but there's hundreds more where people are on maternity leave, on extended medical leave, on sabbatical or they're doing extended assignments outside the classroom. What we see is hundreds of people cycling in and out of employment over a span of a few months."
Over the next eight years, 25 new schools will be opening in Orange County. Azzarito says, finding new teachers has ben extremely difficult and student population keeps growing. There's a total of 203,000 students now -- an increase of 21,000 over the last five years.
"Were traveling outside of Florida to a couple of places that have a surpluses of teachers and try to bring them down to Florida. As well as visiting state universities and colleges and going to their job fairs."
The union says it wants to work with the district to make Orange County Public schools a great place to be employed. They plan to confront the board with this.
Mitchell says, "The need is going to start being acute if we don't start doing something differently."
The union president says she plans to bring up the teacher shortage at Tuesday's meeting.